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Free Life Posted on 8/16/2014 1:03:46 AM
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Disclaimer: Harry Potter is the property of JK Rowling and Warner Bros. I in no way claim ownership of any rights to the Harry Potter Universe.

Author's Note:

Chapter 2: Look Ma, No Wand
The next morning Harry decided to write a letter to Hermione before anything else. He had a lot of letters to write, so it was best to get them started right away. He crawled out of bed and plopped down onto the wobbly chair at his desk. Parchment, quill, and ink were soon on the desk, and Harry began writing.

Dear Hermione,

I’m doing as well as can be expected, which doesn’t say very much. I was in rough shape for awhile, but I’ve been feeling a little better the last couple days. I’ve started doing some studying. It helps to keep my mind off of things. I’m eating as much as I ever do here now, which should still ensure that Mrs. Weasley will fuss over me next time she sees me anyway.

I hope everything goes alright with you and your parents. You’ll have to tell them the truth sooner or later, so maybe now is the right time. Just let them know that you are a part of the Wizarding World now, and it is a part of you. Make them see that pulling you out of Hogwarts won’t remove you from danger. It will only take away your tools to fight back and protect yourself. The best thing for you would be to continue to learn so that you can properly defend yourself should the need arise. I’m sure they’ll come around. If you need any help or anything or think a letter from me might help, just say the words. I’d offer to come visit to help you talk to them, but I’m more or less trapped here at the moment.

Take care,
Harry


Harry sent Hedwig off with the letter, then turned to the door and walked out. He grabbed a quick breakfast much to his relatives’ quiet dismay. The threat Moody and the others had made at the train station was still hanging thickly over their heads, and they were reluctant to openly cause Harry trouble. Instead they just ignored him, which suited Harry just fine.

After making his way back upstairs, Harry took a seat at his desk once again and turned his attention inward. It was time for him to start practicing wandless magic. He wasn’t sure how he was supposed to start as he’d only ever been taught how to focus his magic through his wand. No one had ever even told him it was possible to purposely do magic without one.

Harry thought back to the night he was attacked by dementors and tried to figure out what he had done. All he could remember was scrambling around frantically in the darkness and desperately wishing he could just see what he was doing. He needed some light and had just uttered “lumos” without really thinking about it at the moment.

He thought back to the times he had performed accidental magic hoping that it could somehow lead him into what he needed to know to do wandless magic. All the times he had accidentally performed magic he had wanted something to happen, and it just did. It didn’t always happen in the way that he would have wanted, but maybe that’s just because he didn’t have proper control over the magic.

One time he had wanted to get away from Dudley and his gang, and the next thing he knew he was on the roof of the school.

Another time he had wanted his Aunt Marge to shut up and get over her inflated ego. In hindsight, perhaps inflated wasn’t the best choice of thoughts since that was exactly what happened to her as a result. She was inflated like a blimp and floated away.

The only difference he could discern was control. When he had cast lumos he had been in control of his magic. He had willed to perform a specific function and had gotten the desired results. The other times he had just willed something to happen to fix the problem without giving a specific solution, and he ended up with sporadic results. So in theory Harry just had to really want something to happen then will it to happen in a specific way without losing control.

With that thought in mind Harry set to work trying to levitate his quill without the aid of a wand.

An hour later and his quill had barely twitched, and it was debatable whether the cause of that was actually Harry’s magic, the wind, or whether or not it was just a figment of Harry’s imagination. Harry was getting frustrated. He began thinking about all he hoped to accomplish this summer and how much being able to use wandless magic would help. He wished his stupid quill would just get up and move already. And it did.

It shot up into the air and firmly lodged its tip in the ceiling with the feather hanging down. Harry had felt a surge go through him which he could only assume was his magic. He finally got the quill to move, but it wasn’t exactly what he was hoping for. He only had minimal control over what had happened. He controlled the spell but not the intensity of it.

Feeling slightly bolstered by his moderate success, Harry concentrated on the quill stuck in his ceiling. He willed it to burrow out of the ceiling and float slowly down to his desk. He could see the quill start to move and feel something stirring inside him. Last time it had been a jolt, quick and powerful. This time it was a slow moving flow inside of him. The quill extricated itself from its prison and floated ever so slowly down to the top of his desk. When the quill had landed, the flow inside of him stopped as well.

Harry turned his attention to a small book on his desk. He focused inside of himself on that feeling of the magic flowing through his body hoping to duplicate it. He willed the book to levitate off the desk. He could feel the magic slowly start to build up inside of him and flow through his body. Moments later the book was lifting itself off of his desk and hovering above it.

Harry tried this on a couple other objects increasing the weight of them as he went. After levitating his bed a couple inches off the floor, then slowly, soundlessly letting it drop back to the ground, he decided that he had levitation down pat. So he decided he would move on to a different spell.

He decided to try a summoning charm next. He once again concentrated on letting his magic build up and start to flow just like it had before, then shifted focus to his quill and willed it to himself. He felt the magic inside of him shift a bit but struggled to keep it steady so as not to lose control of the spell. As a result the quill alternated between floating in the air and coming towards Harry, seemingly unable to make up its mind.

Harry stopped and let the quill drop to the floor. He picked it up and placed it on the desk again before stepping back and giving it another shot. He felt the same shift in his magic and had to rein it in with the same results on the quill. He paused to think about what was happening. There was obviously something different. It was like he was casting a summoning charm and a hover charm at the same time.

The question was: why is this happening? Was he just having a harder time controlling his magic because this was a more difficult spell? If he were able to stop his magic from struggling with him, would that solve the problem? Harry really wished he had someone he could ask these questions to. He tried a couple more times with the same results and began to grow frustrated. As his frustration increased, he seemed to have even more difficulty with the spell and the quill would often buck in the air or go in the completely opposite direction and shoot around much faster than Harry had willed it to go.

He decided to call it quits for the day before the quill ended up poking his eye out and realized that it was evening already and that he had completely missed lunch. He went downstairs and into the kitchen to find his aunt and uncle sitting down to dinner, Dudley was nowhere to be seen. ‘Must be out with the gang’ Harry thought to himself. ‘Otherwise he’d never miss a meal.’

The Dursleys pointedly ignored Harry as had been the custom so far this summer. As he helped himself to some of the pork roast his aunt had cooked he could feel the waves of tension streaming off of his uncle. It took all of the large man’s energy just to hold back the surge of insults begging to be let loose on Harry. But he was obviously able to rein in all of his ill will for he simply glared at his nephew before turning back to his food.

Harry ate quickly and in silence before dumping his plate off in the sink and rushing back upstairs, eager to escape the tension and to return to the comfort of his solitude. Harry spent the rest of his evening pouring over his old textbooks yet again to learn all that he could from them before finally crawling into bed and letting sleep overcome him.

******

Dear Ron,

I heard back from Harry today, which I guess is obvious since I asked Hedwig to deliver this. I also got your message earlier. It sounds like he was in bad shape for several days and is just starting to come out of it, which is hardly surprising. I’m guessing that he chose to write Ginny first because it was a safer note to write; he could avoid talking about the more sensitive subjects, and he figured that she wouldn’t press him since she doesn’t know him as well as us. I wouldn’t worry too much about it because I’m sure you’ll be hearing from him tomorrow.

I’m so anxious to get our OWL results back. I hope they aren’t delayed at all because of everything going on at the ministry right now. I’ve finished most of the summer reading for the NEWT courses I hope to take. Have you started studying yet? You know that NEWTs are incredibly important, and you can never start preparing too soon. You really can’t expect to get any NEWTs with the amount of effort you usually put into studying. You’ll need to work extra hard these next two years. I’d be happy to write up a study schedule for you to help keep you on task and up to date.

I have another letter to write and a long overdue conversation with my parents to plan, so I’m going to have to cut this short. At least think about opening a book, and let me know when you hear from Harry.

Love from,
Hermione


Ron’s sour mood had initially lightened as he saw the white owl fly into his room to deliver a letter. It was short lived, however, when he saw not Harry’s messy handwriting, but the neat script of Hermione Granger on the parchment. It wasn’t that he didn’t like hearing from Hermione. He was just anxious to hear from his other best friend.

His foul mood only worsened as he finished reading through Hermione’s letter. ‘Why does she always have to get on my case?’ Ron thought bitterly. ‘And Harry…what the hell is going on with him? I’m his best mate, and he’s written my sister and Hermione already and not me. I had better hear from him soon, or he’ll be hearing from me. And who the bloody hell is Hermione writing now? Better not be Vicky again…’

Ron dropped the letter on his desk and walked out of his room. He began descending the stairs as another door opened down the hall on the floor below. Ginny walked out and down the stairs in front of him never noticing her brother’s form on the stairs. As Ron continued he noticed that her bedroom door was still open. He could see her desk through the open doorway and noticed some parchment littered across the top. He had tried to get Ginny to show him Harry’s letter ever since she had got it.

******

“He’s my best friend, not yours. I have more of a right to know how he’s doing than you,” Ron spat.

“I think that’s for Harry to decide, you self-obsessed, arrogant prat. When he wants to talk to you, he’ll send you an owl. If he wants to talk to me and not you, that’s his choice and his right, and there’s not a thing you can do about it. If you thought less about yourself and more about Harry, he probably would have written to you already. Now for the last time: you are not reading Harry’s letter.” Ginny fumed, clearly frustrated with her older brother, before shoving him out of her doorway and slamming the door in his face.

******

‘What does she know anyway? After all, like Hermione said, Harry was just writing Ginny because she didn’t know him well and wouldn’t ask questions about Sirius or make him talk about everything. So why shouldn’t I know what he wrote to her?’ And with that thought, Ron crept into Ginny’s room and began thumbing through the parchment on her desk. He finally found the familiar scrawl of his best friend and immediately noticed the length of the letter which only served to intensify his burning curiosity.

He was just finishing the first paragraph when a red-haired ball of fury erupted from the doorway. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?” In the blink of an eye she had crossed the room and snatched the letter from his hands, staring daggers into her brother.

“I was checking how my best friend was doing. What’s he doing writing you a long letter like that? And what was he apologizing for? What the bloody hell did the rest of the letter say?”

“I cannot believe you snuck into my room and read through my mail. You have absolutely no right to read any of my letters whether from Harry or not. Now if you don’t want bat-bogeys covering your face, I suggest you get out of her quickly and never step foot in my room ever again.”

At the words ‘bat-bogeys’ Ron bolted from the room before she could finish the sentence. Ginny had a temper to rival any Weasley, and despite her small size, she was a force not to be reckoned with.

He hurried back to his room more confused than when he had left it. Harry’s letter to Ginny wasn’t just a short one asking for a favor like he had thought. ‘Why would Harry be apologizing to her anyway? And why such a long letter? She’s just my baby sister. But then again maybe he only wrote to her because she was there that night in the Department of Mysteries. Maybe he wrote to Neville and Luna as well to apologize and make friends with the three of them. He had said that he wanted to be friends with Ginny. Well, I’ll just ask Harry what’s going on when he writes me.’

Ron turned back to Hermione’s letter. “She better not be writing to Vicky again.”

******

Sirius was waiting in that same classroom again as Harry entered into his dreams. “Hiya Harry,” he said jovially.

“Hi Sirius.”

“So…how did the wandless magic go?” Sirius asked.

“Gee, it’s nice to see you too,” Harry replied dryly.

“Ee-gads, a sense of humor,” Sirius smirked, clutching a hand to his chest. “I’m sorry Harry. I’m just anxious to hear how it went. It’s not every day you find a wizard capable of wandless magic. This could be a huge advantage for you. So how was your day, and how did the wandless magic go?”

“My day was fine. I had some success with the wandless magic, but not as much as I had hoped. I managed to control wingardium leviosa pretty well, but when I tried to do a summoning spell afterwards I didn’t get the best results. It felt like my magic was being pulled in two different directions, and I was having trouble controlling it. Then I got frustrated and things started falling apart from there. I’ll have to try again tomorrow.”

“Hmm…wish I knew how to help you. But even having that little success is promising.”

“Yeah…I want to try doing a couple spells with my wand for a little bit. Maybe doing them with a wand and concentrating on the magic will help me get a grasp on things a little bit,” Harry said.

“Fair enough. Have at it.” Sirius took a seat to watch as his godson set off to work.

Harry looked around the room and found some quills on a desk in the room. He pulled out his wand and with a swish and a flick and the words “wingardium leviosa,” the quill was floating in the air. Harry had it hover for a few moments before lowering it back on the desk. He stood there looking pensive for a moment before opening his mouth. “I can feel the magic in me when I concentrate. It felt the same as it did earlier, only it’s slightly different because of the wand. Then it was like the magic was just flowing inside me. Here it’s more focused around the wand in my right arm.”

Harry took a few steps back and performed the summoning charm with a short “Accio.” The quill zoomed from the desk towards him, and he snatched it out of the air with his left hand. He did another levitation charm then another summoning and thought for a minute. “They’re different,” he finally said, nodding to himself. He began to pace lightly as he continued to explain. “I can feel the magic for both, but it’s different. When I was doing wandless magic earlier I was concentrating on the magic and trying to keep it the same, but when I was trying to summon an object I felt my magic trying to change, so I was fighting with it. That’s why it couldn’t seem to make up its mind, I was trying to summon it with a levitation charm.”

Sirius just sat there looking at Harry until he finally asked, “So what does that mean?”

“It means that I need to learn the different ways that magic will feel so I can perform more spells without my wand. It will take some practice, but if I can manage to control my magic and change it to fit my needs, then I should theoretically be able to do any type of magic without a wand,” Harry explained.

“That would be amazing,” Sirius exclaimed, rising from his seat, “but that’s a pretty big if.”

“Well, I’ll just have to try and see how it goes.”

“Sounds like a plan. Now that that’s settled what say we get started on tonight’s lesson?” Sirius asked. “I thought tonight we would start on the basics of apparation.”

“Really? You’re gonna teach me how to apparate?”

“I’m gonna try anyway. Hopefully what you learn here will transfer out into the real world. If nothing else we can go over the theory behind it and hope that it’s enough when the time comes for you to use it.”

Sirius began talking about the basic mechanics of the spell. You had to visualize your destination in your mind and try to be as detailed as possible about the exact location you wish to apparate to. Any indecision or uncertainty or vagueness could lead to splinching. Once you have your destination visualized, it’s just a little twist of the wand while focusing on your physical body being at your destination and voila, you’ve apparated. The spell didn’t require a verbal incantation.

“Of course it is much easier to apparate to a place you can see because that pretty much takes care of the visualization step right there. Places you are very familiar with should be easier for you as well, since it will be easier to visualize your destination with more clarity. Distance also factors into the equation. If you try to apparate too far away it could have disastrous results.” Sirius had entered into a professor mode to explain the subject which was completely unlike his usual mischievous self.

“Now you may be wondering why you’ve never seen anyone pull out their wand to apparate before. They are not doing it wandlessly. The fact of the matter is that it’s easy to perform the wand movement inconspicuously as it only requires just a little twist. Say my wand was tucked into my belt like this,” Sirius commented as he stuffed his wand into his trousers. “I could just put my hand on my hip and twist the wand without ever taking it out.” Sirius finished the last half of the sentence on the other side of the room. “Well I guess apparation works more or less the same here. Why don’t you give it a shot?”

Harry stood up and looked at Sirius questioningly.

Sirius gave him a grin and said, “Just choose a place in this room to apparate to. Focus on the exact spot and lock it in your mind. Then concentrate on being in that spot and give your wand a twist.”

Harry nodded to his godfather then glanced around the room before locking his eyes onto one of the corners. His brow furrowed in concentration as Harry secured the spot in his mind. He pulled out his wand and continued staring at his spot for another moment before giving a twist. There was a loud crack, but Harry was still in the same spot he had been in all along. He looked over to his godfather.

“Not bad for a first try,” Sirius grinned. “You did what’s called flickering. You technically apparated to the exact spot you were in. It usually means that when you actually went to twist you weren’t concentrating on being anywhere else. Give it another shot.”

Harry did as he was told and focused his mind on his corner. When he was satisfied he gave his wand another twist. There was another loud crack, and Harry found himself a foot away from the corner of the room staring at where the two walls met. He quickly spun around. “I did it!” he exclaimed with a whoop of joy.

“Good. Very good” his godfather commended. “Do that a couple more times to different spots in the room, and then we’ll move on.”

Harry did as he was told, apparating to several different spots in the room with the same results. After his fifth successful apparation, he turned to his godfather for more instructions.

“Okay, you’re doing great. You can apparate to a specific spot without a problem, but now you need to work on your position in that spot,” Sirius explained. “You don’t want to apparate facing the wall. You want to apparate facing the room. Once you really get the hang of apparation you can try more difficult things like apparating into a sitting position on a chair. But for now, just concentrate on apparating to a spot and facing a certain direction.”

Harry nodded to Sirius to show that he understood the instructions before focusing on the task at hand. His eyes moved back to that first corner he had apparated to, and Harry concentrated on being in that spot facing out into the room. He took a minute to really lock it into his mind before giving his wand a twist and willing himself into the new position. Harry had closed his eyes right before giving his wand the twist. After he heard the telltale crack, he slowly opened his eyes and immediately zeroed in on his beaming godfather.

“Excellent Harry,” Sirius praised. “Now do it again all around the room.”

Harry did as he was instructed. The rest of the training passed in the same manner, with Harry apparating around the room. Sirius had him work on his speed and precision. By the time Sirius was calling the night’s lesson to an end, Harry was able to apparate to any spot in the room facing any direction in a matter of a couple seconds.

Harry awoke to find Hedwig perched on the headboard of his bed with a letter waiting for him to claim it. He sat up in his bed and took the parchment. He unfolded it with one hand while stroking Hedwig’s feathers with his other. What met him was Hermione’s precise script.

Dear Harry,

I hope you don’t mind, I asked Hedwig to deliver a note to Ron and then come back to me for my reply. Not having an owl of your own can make keeping in touch quite a hassle in the Wizarding World. I was very pleased to receive your letter. I was very worried about you, but it’s quite a relief to hear from you and to know that you’re beginning to feel better. Sirius would have wanted you to make the most of your life and to honor his memory by enjoying yourself.

I must say I was pleasantly surprised to hear that you’ve taken to studying this summer. It’s good to see that you’re finally taking your schoolwork more seriously. With NEWT classes coming up, these next two years will be the most important of our lives. Our NEWT grades will determine what career paths we will be able to take after Hogwarts. I wouldn’t want your future to be limited because you didn’t apply yourself in school. I only hope your new attitude will rub off on Ron. If he thinks he can just coast through NEWT classes, he’s got another thing coming.

Speaking of Ron, he seems rather upset that you haven’t written to him yet. It sounds like he’s been giving Ginny a hard time since you wrote to her, and she won’t let him read your note to her. You should write to him soon so he can stop worrying. We’re only worried about you, Harry. Keep in touch.

Love from,
Hermione


With a sigh Harry decided that he probably should write to Ron soon. He didn’t want to cause a row between Ron and Ginny after all. In the meantime, Harry cleaned himself up before heading downstairs to grab a bite to eat. When he returned to his room, Harry was all business. He immediately set to work on his wandless magic.

He began as he did the day before with a simple levitation charm. Wingardium leviosa sent many an object hovering above the ground as Harry became proficient in casting this spell wandlessly. Satisfied with himself, Harry decided to switch to the summoning spell again. Like the day before he concentrated on his magic, letting it flow through him, before concentrating on summoning his quill to him. He felt his magic start to shift again, only this time he didn’t fight the change. He went with the flow of his magic and let it change into the form he recognized from last night when he had performed the summoning charm with his wand. His quill flew to him, and he snatched it out of the air with ease.

Encouraged by his success, Harry began summoning different objects to himself. After a couple successful attempts he changed tactics. Up until now he had always willed his magic into the form of the levitation charm first, then let it shift into the summoning spell. He decided to will his magic directly into the summoning charm. He figured that if he was ever going to be proficient with wandless magic, he would need to be able to call forth the correct spell right away. He quickly caught the hang of this and began alternating between levitation and summoning charms calling forth each magic directly.

Harry began trying different spells that he had learned over the years in Charms and Transfiguration. He didn’t try any spells learned in Defense Against the Dark Arts as he didn’t have an opponent to practice them against. He met a lot of success, but there were a few occasions where he had to struggle to get the appropriate results. After a couple of these occasions, Harry noticed that when he got frustrated his magic became more erratic. He was prone to make more mistakes, and he could feel the magic inside of himself disrupted from its flow.

When he realized this he took time to calm himself down before starting again. From then on he kept a close eye on his magic to make sure that he didn’t lose control of it. Any time he began to get frustrated and saw that the flow of his magic was being upset, he would make himself take a few minutes to gain a level head before continuing. By the time he stopped, nighttime was approaching, and he realized that he had missed lunch yet again.

He ran downstairs to get dinner and realized that his relatives had already eaten. He fixed himself up a quick dinner of macaroni and cheese. As Harry was eating in solitude he thought of the implications of what he had learned that day. His wandless magic could be a great aid to him in the upcoming war, but he couldn’t let his emotions get in his way. If he let himself become frustrated or upset, his magic was likely to became erratic at best which could mean the difference between life and death, and not just for him, but for one of his friends or his classmates, anybody.

Voldemort was out in the open now, and Harry knew that it was only a matter of time before he stepped into the spotlight and the war truly began. He would not be caught unprepared. But what could he do? How could he train himself not to let his emotions get in the way? Who did he know who could help him gain control, who could push him to extremes and force him to become used to remaining cool and collected in the worst of circumstances? Harry could only think of one person who would fit the bill, one person who would push all his buttons relentlessly and never back down. Severus Snape was just the man for the job.

Harry didn’t know if he would make it into NEWT potions. He thought he did pretty well on the OWL for it; potions was a lot easier when he didn’t have Snape breathing down his neck, ridiculing him every couple minutes. But he wasn’t sure if he did well enough to manage an O. Harry decided that it might be a good idea to come up with a backup plan, just in case. Then it came to him: Occlumency. He would ask to resume his Occlumency training. It was something he should probably learn anyway.

As Harry was finishing up his meal, he decided it was time to write his dear old headmaster a note. He wanted to continue with the DA and would need permission to do so, and he would also ask for permission to ask Snape to resume Occlumency training. Harry ran back up to his room and began writing.

Dear Professor Dumbledore,

I would like to begin by apologizing for my actions in your office a couple weeks ago. I was angry and upset, but I had no right to destroy half of your office. I hope nothing was damaged beyond repair, but if anything was I would be more than willing to pay you back if I can or to make up for it to you in some way. With that said, on to business.

I have two things I wish to ask you. First of all, I would like your permission to continue with the DA (though a change of name might be in order). I would like for it to be a school sanctioned club, and I would like to continue teaching it. I think it should be open to all students fourth year and above, but there should be some criteria for involvement. Hermione’s magical contract was an idea, but I don’t think it’s enough. I’d like something similar that prevents someone who intends to use any of what I teach for dark purposes from joining the club. It should also prevent members from talking about the club with non-members. If there is any more information that you need about my intentions for the club, please ask away.

My second request is for your permission to restart my Occlumency lessons with Professor Snape. I think it would be most appropriate if I asked him of my own accord, but given how things ended between us last term, I fear he might not be too receptive of the idea. I would like your permission and, if necessary, your assistance in convincing him to resume training me.

Sincerely,
Harry Potter


Harry rolled up the parchment and strode over to Hedwig’s cage where his snowy white owl was perched, waiting expectantly for her next delivery. Harry stroked her feathers before tying off his letter and holding out his arm to the owl. She jumped on with a hoot of appreciation. He headed over to the window and gave Hedwig a boost out the window where she soared out of sight into the darkened sky. Harry settled into his desk to do some more reading before finally heading off to bed.

Harry told his godfather all about his wandless experiences of the day. He told him of his successes and his difficulties and the conclusions he drew about his ability. He told Sirius of his decision to try to learn to control his emotions better and the letter he had written to Dumbledore asking to resume lessons with Snape and to continue the DA. Sirius had been both shocked and proud at Harry’s pronouncement. He had commented on what a mature decision it was to make, to which Harry cryptically replied, “Yes, well I haven’t exactly got the time to be a child any longer, have I? Voldemort’s not going to wait for me to be ready to face him, so the sooner I’m ready the better.”

After the awkward silence that followed his statement, Harry resumed his practicing of apparation. He progressed onto the more complicated aspects his godfather had told him about of apparating into a seated position. As Harry practiced more and more he became more familiar with the feel of that particular magic. On a whim Harry concentrated extra hard on his destination and pulled his magic to him, letting it flow and form into the proper form for apparation. With a pop Harry had managed to apparate without a wand.

As he practiced more and more throughout the night he became more and more comfortable with the process. He realized that he could make minor changes to the magic and was able to slow down his reappearance which had the added affect of vastly reducing the noise he made. Appearing more slowly meant that not as much air was displaced as rapidly. By the end of the night he was barely making a sound, much to Sirius’ delight. “Even Dumbledore makes more noise than you, and I’m pretty sure he needs his wand to do it too,” his godfather had acclaimed.

Needless to say Harry was rather pleased with the progress he had been making. He was now able to cast spells outside of school during the summer without repercussion, and he was quickly learning how to apparate, something he shouldn’t be learning how to do for another full year.

The next morning Hedwig was again waiting for him with another letter. Harry immediately recognized the loopy handwriting as that belonging to his headmaster as he began reading the parchment.

Dear Harry,

I must say I was surprised to hear from you. Do not worry yourself over what transpired in my office nor of any of my possessions. I am only saddened that my poor judgment has cost you so much.

As for your requests, you have my blessing to ask Professor Snape to resume your Occlumency lessons. Should he prove difficult to persuade, I would be more than happy to intercede on your behalf. And might I add that I am quite proud of you for making this decision. It shows a great deal of maturity well beyond your years.

As for your other request, I think it a splendid idea to continue with the DA. If it is to be an official club, I will need to approve all of the details before you commence your instructions. I will need to know your plans for the magical contract you mentioned, and your curriculum will also need to be approved by either me or a professor of my choosing. The last thing to put in order will be your status in regards to your role in the club. You will be in a position of authority in this club, and you will need an official role to reinforce your authority. I will discuss your proposal with the rest of the staff before the start of term, and we will come to a decision on the privileges and responsibilities you will be awarded to coincide with your role.

Again, I feel I must commend you on the maturity you have shown me. I look forward to seeing you at the start of the term.

Sincerely,
Albus Dumbledore


Harry tossed the letter aside. He still wasn’t happy with his headmaster, but he knew he needed his help. He was pleased to see that the headmaster had no issues with either of his requests and even seemed willing to go out of his way to help out. Being given an official capacity to lead the DA would help him get much more work done especially with any new members.

Before he got too carried away with anything else, Harry decided he would write a letter to Ron.

Dear Ron,

I’m doing okay now. The Dursley’s have ignored me for the most part, which is a remarkable improvement.

I heard that you’ve been giving Ginny a hard time about my letter to her a couple days back. I really wish you wouldn’t. I wrote to Ginny because I wanted to and had something to say to her at the time. If you’ve got a problem with me, please don’t take it out on Ginny or anybody else. Just talk to me about it. You also might want to think about leaving her alone about Dean. It’s her business who she dates, not yours. I think she’s quite capable of taking care of herself.

What have you been up to this summer? I’ve actually been studying lately for lack of anything else to do. I wish I could practice with a wand over the summer. I don’t want my dueling skills to get rusty. Seems kind of foolish for the ministry to be worrying about underage magic with Voldemort running around. But at least they’re finally admitting he’s actually back.

I’m sorry I didn’t write to you sooner, but for several days I wasn’t even reading any mail, let alone writing any. Then when I finally came around there were a couple that I wanted to take care of before this one. Don’t take it the wrong way. It doesn’t mean anything.

Take care,
Harry


As he was signing his name, a strange owl appeared in the window holding a package. Harry cautiously took the package and looked it over. It was from the apothecary in Diagon Alley. Figuring this must be the ingredients he had asked for, Harry tore it open to make sure he had everything he needed. ‘That was certainly quick,’ he thought to himself as he confirmed that it indeed had everything he needed. He decided that since Hedwig was making a trip to the burrow anyway, he’d write a letter to Ginny to thank her and Mrs. Weasley.

He whipped out a piece of parchment and set to work writing the letter. When he finished, he signed his name and rolled both letters up to give to Hedwig. “You’re certainly getting some exercise this summer, aren’t you girl?” Harry asked his owl as he gave her both letters and told her which one went to each person.

After sending Hedwig off, Harry closed his curtains to prevent anyone from seeing into his room and began his training for the day.

******

The afternoon found Ron and Ginny Weasley in the garden: Ron hurling gnomes out of the garden while Ginny picked berries. It was a hot summer day with the sun beating down on the two fair skinned red heads as they worked.

As Ron flung another gnome over the hedge, he noticed a white speck in the sky coming towards him. He waited as the snowy white owl flew to him and held out her leg with a letter attached. “Looks like Harry sent me a letter,” Ron proclaimed loudly to his sister with a smug smile on his face.

After being relieved of her first letter, Hedwig flew over to Ginny and held out her other leg upon which was attached a second letter. “Looks like he wrote to me too,” Ginny commented off-handedly. She missed the glare from her brother as she strolled over the shade of a nearby tree to sit and read her letter. Ron, meanwhile, stalked off into the house. Comfortably resting against the trunk of the tree, Ginny delved into Harry’s letter.

Dear Ginny,

Thank you so much. I got the supplies from the apothecary today; it came much sooner than I had expected. Make sure you thank your mum for me as well. You’re right about this not having anything to do with Snape’s class, and I promise I’ll tell you what I’m up to (so long as you promise to keep it a secret), but I can’t say it in a letter. All I can say is that this summer I am preparing myself for what’s to come, and these supplies should help me out a lot.

Hermione mentioned that my last letter to you may have caused some problems between you and Ron. If that’s true I want you to know that I’m sorry. I didn’t mean for Ron to get mad at you. If he was upset with anyone it should have been me, and he shouldn’t have taken any of that out on you. I told him as much in the letter I sent to him, so hopefully he’ll get the message and get off your case.

I also told him that your love life is none of his business. I’m not sure he’ll listen to me, but I let him know that you are more than capable of taking care of yourself. How are things going with Dean anyway? To be honest I feel kind of bad because I had completely forgotten you had said you were seeing him now. But I hope all is well with you two. Dean’s a decent enough bloke. He should treat you right, and if not he’ll have more than an angry brother to answer to.

Thank you for what you said about the correlation to our situations in being tricked by Voldemort. I hadn’t thought of it from a different perspective like that. I still can’t shake the feeling that I could have avoided the whole mess had I only thought things through, but it has helped make things more bearable. I know that I am not entirely to blame in what happened, but I still feel some responsibility for it.

Believe it or not I actually have been training and studying quite a bit this summer, even a little in potions. But not all of what I’m doing is for classes. I’ve begun thinking about what I’m going to be doing with the DA next year. Yes, that’s right, the DA will continue. I already made it official by asking for Dumbledore’s permission, which he gave without hesitation. We might be changing the name though. It will be an official club, open to students 4th year and up. There will be some sort of qualification for membership, a magical contract of some sort to discourage certain unfavorables from joining up. I haven’t mentioned any of this to anyone else yet, so I’d appreciate it if you kept your lips sealed on the subject for the time being. I’d like to keep a few tricks up my sleeve.

Well, I hope your summer is going well. Keep busy, stay safe, and write again soon.

Take care,
Harry


Ginny folded up the letter and tucked it into the pocket of her shorts. ‘What did he mean he hasn’t told anyone else yet? Surely he told Ron and Hermione about the DA, right? Maybe he just didn’t want me telling Dean or any other friends of mine to keep it from spreading to everyone at Hogwarts,’ Ginny thought to herself as she strolled into the house. She noticed Hedwig perched in the kitchen and asked “Hedwig, do you mind waiting a bit to take a reply back to Harry?”

Hedwig gave a hoot to show that she would wait, so Ginny ascended the stairs and went to her room to craft her reply to Harry. She pulled Harry’s letter out of her pocket and put it into one of the desk drawers that she kept locked. She learned her lesson the hard way when she walked in on Ron reading through the letters she had left lying on her desk the other day. Just as she was dipping her quill in ink to begin writing, her door burst open to reveal a furious looking Ron.

“You just had to go and tell on me to him, didn’t you? What, are you trying to turn him against me or something? Is that it? Think maybe then he’ll finally notice you?” Ron accused his sister scathingly.

“Just what are you on about now?” Ginny asked in annoyance, turning in her chair to face her brother.

“Well, considering half his letter was spent telling me how I should treat my dear little sister better,” Ron snapped, “that can only mean that you’ve been complaining to him about me. And I want to know why you’re trying to turn my best friend against me.”

“First of all,” Ginny replied icily, “the only thing I said to Harry about you was that you hadn’t shut up about Dean Thomas since I mentioned him on the train.” Ginny rose from her chair and advanced on her brother. “Secondly, do you really think that I have nothing better to do with my life than to try to ruin yours? Harry seemed mad enough at you without my help, so maybe you should worry a little less about what I am saying about you or not and just grow up.” She poked Ron in the chest as she finished, backing him up out of her doorway. Once he had stepped out of the room she slammed the door in his face.

She locked the door and returned to her desk. If she wasn’t planning on talking about Ron in her letter to Harry before, she sure as hell was intending to do so now. He really could be a complete prat sometimes.

******

Harry had been practicing his wandless magic for a couple hours. He was apprehensive about practicing apparation. Despite his successes in his nighttime training with Sirius, there was always the chance that he would make a mistake, and there wouldn’t be anyone around to help him if he ended up splinching himself. So he had avoided apparation practice and stuck to other spells.

At one point he had taken his existing curtains, which were fairly thin and would not block out a lot of light, which some of the spells he would eventually be casting would cause, and used his transfiguration skills to make them into a heavier material that would have no trouble blocking all his spell work from the outside world.

His confidence in his abilities was lifting as he encountered more and more success in wandless casting. He still wasn’t up to the standards of his regular magic with a wand, but he was quickly closing the gap. The biggest difference at the moment was the speed of casting. It always took him a moment to gather his magic and form it the right way before he could cast anything. He hoped that as he continued practicing it would become second nature to him, allowing him to gather and form his magic at a moment’s notice.

Harry eventually gathered up his nerve and decided to try apparating. He started off very slowly as he had the first time he tried apparating with a wand. He focused on a corner of his room and made sure to completely lock the location in his mind before gathering up his magic and forming it into the apparation spell. Once he was satisfied, he concentrated on being in that corner of the room, facing out towards the room, and willed his magic to take him there. With a pop, Harry reappeared in the desired corner looking out towards the window.

Encouraged by his initial success, Harry continued with his apparation practice, popping up all around the room. He started off slowly but was rapidly building speed as his confidence built up. He eventually started softening the sound of his apparation like he had the night before until there was barely a whisper when he disappeared and reappeared.

Late that night, Harry realized that he was making a habit out of missing meals as his stomach reminded him that he had not eaten lunch or dinner yet. He snuck downstairs into the kitchen to appease his rumbling stomach. When he returned to his room it was to a tapping sound emanating from behind the newly thickened curtains he had made earlier that day. When he drew the curtains aside, he revealed a very annoyed Hedwig wanting entry into the room.

Harry quickly opened the window to let his owl fly in. “Sorry, Hedwig” Harry attempted to placate the owl. “I was downstairs getting something to eat.” Still annoyed, Hedwig stuck out her leg for Harry to remove the attached letter. Hedwig immediately flew off once free of her burden. As Harry unrolled the parchment, he found it to contain handwriting he was beginning to become familiar with.

Dear Harry,

I’m sorry to do this to you, but I’m in need of a way to vent some of my frustration with your best friend, my dear brother Ron. So prepare yourself for a rant.

That insufferable prat has a lot of nerve. First he wouldn’t leave me alone about Dean. Then he keeps hounding me to let him read the letter that you sent me, claiming that it was his right as your best friend. After I told him to sod off a hundred times I caught him snooping in my room reading through my letters. He found yours and judging by his comments I’d say he managed to get through a paragraph or two before I caught him.

As if that wasn’t enough, after getting your letter today he barges into my room and accuses me of trying to turn you against him. He claimed that half your letter was berating him for his treatment of me. I told him that the only thing I had mentioned was that he wouldn’t shut up about Dean. And I told him to grow up. I also let him know that you seemed upset enough with him without my help before I had even written to you. If you could tell him who your source was, and I’m assuming it was Hermione since I wrote to her about it earlier, that might get him off my back for a bit, but then again that might just put Hermione in my place.

Now before you start writing me apologies, let me just tell you right now that I don’t want to hear any of it. My brother is the prat, not you. That’s not to say you’ve never been a prat, but you didn’t do anything wrong this time, and I don’t blame you in the slightest for my brother’s behavior. If it wasn’t this, the immature git would have found some other way to get under my skin. I wanted to say thanks for sticking up for me to Ron. Merlin knows he won’t listen to me, but he might just listen to you.

Anyway, you are quite welcome for the potions supplies. And I will hold you to that promise (of course I’ll keep it a secret). I’m glad to hear that the DA will be continuing, and legally this time. Am I allowed to talk to Ron and Hermione about it? You said I shouldn’t mention it to anyone, but I figured you must be telling at least those two about it, right? I won’t bring it up until you give me the okay, but I’m just surprised that you chose me to be the first to know.

Oh, and as for Dean, don’t worry about forgetting about him and I. You had a lot on your mind at the time. To be entirely truthful, I probably would have forgotten about it too if not for the git constantly reminding me. Yes, that’s right, you heard me correctly. I made the whole thing up just to prove that Ron would throw a fit no matter who I dated. Looks like I was right. Don’t tell Ron that, though. Annoying as he is about it, I still get some pleasure out of baiting him with it. Sorry again about the rant, but I needed to say all of that to somebody. Write again soon.

With love,
Ginny


Harry could not believe Ron. ‘How dare he read my letter to Ginny without her permission? And how could he accuse his own sister of trying to turn me against him? And the nerve of him to claim that it’s his right as my ‘best friend’ to read letters I send to Ginny. This is a time when we all need to pull together, and he’s just starting fights wherever he can.’ Harry thought to himself. Ginny had said it best: Ron needed to grow up; otherwise he was going to be left behind. As Harry had told Sirius, he didn’t have any time for childishness; he had a prophecy to fulfill.

Harry tucked back into his small collection of books to study before going to bed. It was only an hour later that Harry began to grow bored and tired. He had been through most of these books before, and he was running out of new things to learn from them. He decided to put the books aside for now and write the letters to Neville and Luna that he had been planning on sending. He set to work on Neville’s first.

Dear Neville,

I’m not exactly sure how I should start this, but let me first say thank you. Without your help and the others I probably would not have made it out of the ministry alive that night. You showed a lot of courage facing those death eaters. You’re a good friend, Neville. I’m sure your parents would be proud of you.

I also want to apologize for leading you into danger needlessly. You came with me to save my godfather knowing that we would likely be facing Voldemort or his death eaters, and I cannot thank you enough for that, but if I had thought things through and been more careful, you wouldn’t have had to be in that situation in the first place. For that I am very sorry.

You’ve proved yourself to be an excellent dueler. Last year in the DA you quickly ascended the ranks and were often one of the first to master a new spell. And I’ll be willing to bet that with a new wand especially fitted to you, you’ll only get even better. I’d like to offer to pay for a new wand for you, if you’ll let me. It was might fault you were there that night, and if it weren’t for that you wouldn’t need a new wand. It’s the least I can do. And if your Gran is mad at you over that incident, I’d be more than happy to send her a letter explaining everything and taking full responsibility for it. I don’t want you to get in trouble on my account.

I hope your summer is going well. Let me know what you’re up to. I’m stuck with the muggles again, so I’ve had nothing to do except study to keep me busy. Keep in touch.

Take care,
Harry


One down; one more to go.

Dear Luna,

Let me start off by just saying thank you. You volunteered to come with me to save my godfather knowing the danger involved, and I cannot thank you enough for that. Without your help, along with the others’, I probably would not be here today.

I would also like to apologize for leading you into that danger in the first place. Had I stopped to think things through I might have realized that it was just a trap to lure me into danger. Had I not been so stupid, you and the others never would have been put at risk. For that I am sorry.

If there is ever anything you need, I want you to know that you can always ask me. You’ve got a friend in me. With that said, how is your summer going? Have you and your father started your search for the crumple-horned snorkack yet? I hope you find one. I’m stuck with my muggle relatives right now, so I haven’t had anything to do with myself except study. Keep in touch, and let me know how the search goes.

Take care,
Harry


Harry rolled up the two pieces of parchment and turned to Hedwig, who had returned a short time ago to find her cage spotlessly clean and her water bowl freshly filled. She had apparently deemed this an adequate apology, for she didn’t give Harry any more trouble. Harry gave each of the letters to her in turn explaining who each letter was meant for. “Have a safe flight,” Harry told his owl who hopped onto his shoulder and nipped his ear affectionately before swooping out the window to deliver her post.

He looked at his watch and resolved to study for another half an hour before going to bed. He pulled out the dueling book he had been given last Christmas to help him with the DA and set to work.

Harry took a long time to get to sleep that night because he kept thinking of his newly acquired potions ingredients and the fact that it meant he would soon be well on his way to becoming an animagus. He felt that becoming an animagus would help him feel closer to his father and Sirius, which made the whole thing all the more important to Harry.

When he finally did fall asleep, he found Sirius waiting for him as had become the usual. “How was your day?” his godfather asked him fondly.

“Great!” Harry replied enthusiastically. “I was able to apparate around my room just fine without my wand. I also practiced more wandless magic and am becoming more comfortable with it. It still takes me a few moments to cast my spells, but I think I’m getting a lot better. It’s beginning to feel a bit more natural. I also got a package from the apothecary today. It’s got everything I need to make the animagus potion.”

“That’s great. I guess that means we should go over the steps for brewing the potion tonight. You’ll have to memorize each step carefully and remember all of the details because you won’t be able to write it down here to take with you. It’s times like these that will make you wish pensieves were a little more commonplace,” said Sirius.

“I’ll do my best to remember all the instructions. Hopefully without Snape breathing down my neck the brewing will go smoothly. I tell you, I was amazed at the difference when I was taking my Potions OWL,” Harry remarked.

“Don’t be worrying about Snape right now. Besides, weren’t you the one who decided that his attitude was going to help?”

“Fine, you win,” Harry returned with a slight grin.

“You better believe it,” Sirius smirked. “Now let’s get to it then, shall we?”

At Harry’s nod Sirius began drilling the instructions for the animagus potion into Harry’s head. He went over every instruction several times and had Harry reciting the steps back to him on command. When Harry was able to regurgitate the instructions perfectly whether in order or backwards or each step in a random order, Sirius finally decided that he had it down.

He decided to call it a night at this point for fear that practicing anything else might take Harry’s brain away from the potion. He wished Harry a goodnight and good luck and faded out of existence.

Harry began on the potion as soon as he woke up. He didn’t want to waste any time or give himself a chance to forget any of the steps. He drew his cauldron out of his trunk and picked out each of the ingredients he would need. He was soon feverishly working on the potion, hovering above the cauldron stirring the proper number of times clockwise or counter-clockwise as necessary or chopping, mashing, or mixing ingredients as directed. He performed each step with precision and was left with the desired color and thickness. The potion just had to simmer for three hours before it would be ready to be drunk.

Harry glanced at his clock and realized that he’d been at work for a couple hours. His stomach growled at him to emphasize the fact that he hadn’t eaten anything yet. He decided to obey his body’s demands and first headed out the door and into the bathroom. After washing up, Harry dressed and headed downstairs to fix himself something to eat. He strolled down the stairs and into the kitchen and began rummaging through the refrigerator.

His Aunt Petunia noticed Harry and, against her inclination to completely ignore her nephew due to the warning the Dursleys had received from the Order, reprimanded him. “And just what do you think you’re doing?” she questioned shrilly. “We already ate breakfast, and it’s too early for lunch. If you wanted anything, you should have been down here when I was serving. This is not some restaurant that will cater to your wants. If you want to eat, you will do it on my terms. I don’t need you messing about my kitchen.”

Using every ounce of his will power to refrain from sampling some of his newfound wandless magical abilities, Harry had to take a moment to compose himself before he was able to form an adequate reply. “Fine. Maybe I’ll go upstairs and write to my friend, Mad-Eye Moody, to tell him how little I’m being fed. You remember Mad-Eye, don’t you? You met him at King’s Cross this summer. He was wearing a bowler hat and had a crazy looking eye spinning around in its socket.”

His aunt’s demeanor turned from vengeful to fearful in record time. She remembered who he was talking about and remembered the threat that had been made as well. Not only that, but the boy had used that foul word in her home. She quickly glanced through the window to make sure nobody was nearby who could be eavesdropping, those pesky, nosey neighbors.

She forced a smile onto her face and managed to bite out, “Of course. Well I’ll just leave you to fix yourself something then. Be sure to clean up after yourself,” before storming out of the kitchen.

Harry smirked at his aunt’s hasty retreat and returned to the task at hand. He ended up making himself a ham sandwich with a glass of juice. He sat down at the table to enjoy his makeshift meal. He ate in solitude and dutifully cleaned up after himself once he had finished.

He walked back up to his room and upon entering noticed a tiny owl zipping around excitedly. When the owl noticed his entrance, it immediately began circling above Harry’s head. Using his Quidditch seeking skills, he deftly plucked the bird out of the air, saying, “Knock it off Pig.” He relieved the owl of its burden before letting it go again. This time ignoring the pesky owl, Harry sat down on the edge of his bed to read the note.

Dear Harry,

Whoa mate, I know you must be feeling pretty down lately, but you don’t have to take it out on me like that. Honestly, I don’t know why you’d listen to Ginny. She just likes to make my life miserable, so don’t listen to anything she says about me. And speaking of Ginny, what’s the big idea writing to her so much this summer? You know she has that crush on you, and you don’t want to lead her on like that. The last thing we need is for her to reopen the Harry Potter fan club, right? I know she’s with Dean now, but I doubt that’ll last. You just shouldn’t toy with her like that, mate.

And while we’re talking about leading people on, I think Hermione might be writing her old pal Vicky again. I don’t mean to get into anything, but I can’t help but wonder if it’s really safe for her to be writing him, you know? I mean, he goes to Durmstrang which is known for teaching the Dark Arts. Their old headmaster was a Death Eater, after all. Can we really be sure that he’s on our side? I think we should talk to Hermione about it. She might take it more seriously if it was coming from the both of us.

What’s the deal with you studying so much this summer? You’ve been stuck with the Dursley’s every summer, but you’ve never studied much over the summer before. With you studying all summer, Hermione is going to be relentless about getting me to spend my entire summer buried under books. She’d probably have me read through all of the text books for all my classes next year before the term even starts. You’re really leaving me hanging here, mate.

My summer’s been pretty boring so far. I’ve had a bunch of chores to do around the house. The twins have their own flat in Diagon Alley, so they’re not around much anymore. It’s just me and Ginny here this summer. And she hasn’t exactly been pleasant to be around lately, so I haven’t had much of anything to do. Well, mate, don’t let the muggles get you down, and write again soon.

Ron


Harry could only shake his head as he put down his friend’s letter. Ron sure had a lot of nerve with what he’d said about Ginny. And he was still hung up on Hermione and Viktor. Well Harry was not about to get in the middle of that argument. Ron was blinded by his jealousy and not for the first time in his life either, Harry thought ruefully. He would have to admit that he liked Hermione sooner or later, and he would have to learn that he couldn’t choose who his friend decided to spend her time with. Harry believed Hermione when she said she only wanted to be friends with Viktor.

‘Maybe if Ron ever got a clue and a little courage he’d admit that he liked Hermione and end all of this nonsense once and for all,’ Harry thought to himself. He gave a derisive snort and answered his statement out loud: “Yeah, and maybe Voldemort will finally realize the error of his ways and volunteer at St. Mungo’s to help heal all those that have been hurt in the war.”

Harry knew that he had to set Ron straight about Ginny and Hermione, but he also knew that if he didn’t handle it right, he’d only make things worse. He wished his friend would just grow up a little so that he didn’t have to be so careful with what to say to him. His friend had an outrageous temper, and once he got worked up there was no reasoning with him. He decided not to write back just yet, figuring that he’d need the extra time to calm down and gather his thoughts together.

He still had over an hour to go before the potion would be ready for consumption. He decided to practice his wandless magic to pass the time. After 45 minutes, Harry switched to apparation practice. Harry knew he had the basics down and could apparate anywhere in the room without difficulty, so he decided to be a bit daring. He had yet to try apparating to a space outside the room he started in.

He slipped on his invisibility cloak to hide himself away from his relatives. Then he focused on the dining room since he knew nobody would be in there at this time. Since it was his first time apparating outside the room, he took his time to concentrate on his destination before activating his magic and disapparating from his bedroom. Slowing his apparation down to mask his arrival, Harry barely made a sound as he appeared in the dining room whole and in tact. Grinning to himself he began apparating to different rooms around the house until it was time to check on the potion.

He appeared back in his room and strode purposefully to the cauldron set up on the floor in the corner of the room. He ladled some of the potion into a glass and let it cool for a few minutes. Satisfied that he’d waited long enough, he lifted the glass and said, “Here goes nothing,” before downing the contents. It was only a moment before he started to feel the effects. He became drowsy and staggered towards his bed. He barely made it to the edge of his bed to pitch himself onto it as he was overtaken by the potion and succumbed to unconsciousness.

Harry found himself in a dark forest. There was little to no light, so Harry assumed it was nighttime, yet the forest was so thick that the sun may have been high in the sky without his noticing. Despite the lack of light, he was able to see surprisingly well. As his body began to move of its own accord, Harry realized that he was merely an observer in this vision. He had no control whatsoever. The body he was inhabiting stalked through the forest stealthily.

Harry was able to catch glimpses of his paws as he maneuvered through the overgrowth and trees. He had black fur and seemed to be feline. ‘I must be a panther,’ Harry thought to himself. ‘This must be my animagus form.’ Harry concentrated on the feel of his body, and he noticed the magic coursing through it. He committed the feeling to memory so that he could emulate that magic when it came time for him to transform.

The panther continued its progress through the thick growth on the forest floor, weaving in and out of trees as it silently stalked its prey. It sneaked up on another animal Harry was unable to recognize from the rare glimpses he received of it. When he drew in close, the panther pounced at it with blazing speed and quickly subdued the smaller animal.

Thrilled at his success - or should he say the panther’s success - Harry let out a mental whoop that the panther seconded with a victorious growl. Just then his vision blacked out. He assumed that marked the end of the vision, so he prepared to wake up. Without notice Harry’s eyes were blasted with light. He was temporarily blinded as Harry felt air soaring all around him. As the spots began to clear from his eyes, Harry realized that he was facing the sun as it was beginning its descent. He also quickly noticed that he was not standing on the ground nor was he falling. At the moment he was gliding on a current of air.

Elated at the prospect of flying, Harry let out his second mental whoop of the day. He strained to catch a glimpse of himself as the body he inhabited flapped its wings. Harry could see that his wings were covered in black feathers. He tried to think of what kind of bird he could be. He didn’t think he was a raven or a crow, but those were the only birds he could think of off-hand that were black.

Something inside of him seemed to insist that he was an owl. He had never seen a black owl before, but that didn’t mean they didn’t exist. And he just couldn’t shake that nagging feeling inside him. He was a black owl. Harry concentrated on his magic again to note its form. It was very similar to the feel of the panther, he noticed. It made sense considering both spells would require transforming himself into an animal form. The minor difference between the two must just be the difference between the owl and the panther.

The owl descended into a forest. By now the sun had almost completely set, and the inside of the forest was plunged mainly in darkness. Harry could see as well as if he were in broad daylight, better in fact. His eyesight was sharp. He could probably see a needle on the ground a hundred feet away. He pinpointed a small rodent scurrying about on the forest floor. The owl spread its wings and deftly swooped down to snatch the critter in its talons before the mouse even realized it was in danger.

Harry again only had a moment to revel in his success before his vision blackened, and he was again plunged in darkness. He wondered if that was the last of his visions or if more would come to him. His question was answered as he was lifted out of his dreams and returned to the waking world.

Harry was mystified. He was under the impression that he would have been told which animal he was to take the form of as an animagus. He only expected to see one animal, not two. Did this mean that he got to choose which animal to become or what? He didn’t dare hope that he could be both animals; he knew that was impossible. He’d have to ask Sirius about this the next time they met.

******

Sirius sank into a chair bewildered while staring at his godson after Harry had dropped his bombshell. “What do you mean you saw two animals?” he finally asked. “You only get one.”

“I know, that’s what’s got me so confused,” Harry replied. “First I was this panther stalking through the forest. Next thing I know my vision blacks out. Then it comes back to me, only this time I’m an owl flying through the sky. That’s not normal, is it?”

“No, it’s definitely not normal,” Sirius replied shortly as he paced around the small classroom, absentmindedly avoiding the few desks scattered about. “Are you certain you made the potion correctly? I mean absolutely positive? Is it even remotely possible that you made a mistake?”

“The potion was perfect, I’m sure of it,” Harry responded, frustrated. “It was the right color, texture, thickness, everything. I’m sure I did it right. It couldn’t have been the potion.”

“This just doesn’t make any sense,” Sirius commented. “James and I read every book in the Hogwarts library about animagi, restricted section and all, and not once was there a mention of even the possibility of seeing more than one animal during the vision.”

“What do you think it means?” Harry asked tentatively.

Sirius slumped his shoulders as he responded, “I just don’t know.”

“Maybe I get to choose which one I want to be,” Harry suggested.

“Or maybe…” Sirius paused as he thought over the implications, “maybe you can be both.”

Sirius’ suggestion left Harry dumbfounded. He had never even considered the possibility seriously. It had entered his mind briefly at first, but he had quickly dashed the thought away figuring his godfather would do the same. It was unheard of for someone to have more than one animagus form; most didn’t even have a single form. Then again, it was also unheard of for someone to see a vision of more than one animal.

Harry finally let himself consider the possibility that his godfather could be right. It brought a smile to his face. He couldn’t wait to be either animal, but the thought that he could be both animals was an overwhelming one. He’d be able to fly without the aid of a broom. He’d be able to stalk through the Forbidden Forest back at Hogwarts without fear. He would be predator and not prey.

“Maybe you’re right,” Harry finally said. “It felt natural being in both the owl and the panther. And I made care to note the feel of the magic within the body while I was there so that I could replicate it here. Maybe I really can do both.”

“Well it can’t hurt to try, at least,” Sirius replied with a grin.

Harry smiled back at his godfather. “So can we start then? Is there anything else I need to know?” Harry asked quickly.

“Anxious, are we?” Sirius teased. “Given your knowledge of wandless magic I suppose I don’t have much to add. If this works like your other wandless magic and you already know how to manipulate your magic the right way, I imagine you’re already ninety percent of the way there. All you’ve got to do is start doing the changes. It’s best to start by changing one limb at a time back and forth. Once you’re able to change each part of your body individually back and forth, then you can try for the full transformation.”

Not wasting any time, Harry shut his eyes and shifted his focus inward. As he had done so many times now, Harry called forth his magic until he could feel it flowing freely. He concentrated the magic into his left arm and willed it to take the form he had felt in the panther during his vision. Once it felt right, Harry focused on the black furred paw he had seen stalking through the forest. With the picture held in his mind’s eye, Harry willed his left arm to become the paw.

It was a weird feeling. Harry felt his arm changing, muscles and bones reforming as fur sprouted out covering the appendage. He could no longer wiggle his fingers; instead he could extend and retract sharp claws from his paw. He opened his eyes to find that he had been successful. It felt weird being human but having an animal paw. But he shook off the feeling, smiling at his success. Harry glanced over to his godfather to see his reaction.

Sirius grinned as he shook his head at his godson. “I don’t know whether to be proud or angry. It took me months and months of practice before I finally got that far, your father too, though he beat me there by a couple weeks. And here you are thirty seconds after you started with your arm transfigured. When I first brought up this training I thought maybe you’d finish by Christmas if we were lucky. The way things are looking now, you’ll be done within a few days.”

“Well all that wandless magic practice really helped,” Harry replied wryly. “All I had to do was tap into my magic like usual, shape it into the form I felt in the vision, then will my arm into the paw and here I am,” Harry waved his paw at his godfather.

“When you put it like that it sounds easy,” Sirius responded sarcastically, “except for the fact that I’ve never been able to just feel magic or call it forth so readily like you. I’m starting to wonder if even Dumbledore has as much control and awareness of magic as you, Harry.”

“Don’t be ridiculous. I’m nowhere near his skill. I saw him dueling Voldemort. He was incredible; they both were. I couldn’t hold a candle to either of them,” Harry finished despondently.

“Yet,” Sirius retorted. “You’re young Harry. But I’ve never seen anybody pick things up the way you have here. If you continue at this pace, by the end of the year you’ll be holding your own in a duel with Dumbledore. Mark my words.”

Harry just smiled at his godfather’s enthusiasm. He was greatly emboldened by the praise, but he didn’t let it go to his head. He didn’t think it possible to become so powerful so quickly, but for the first time in a long time he felt hope blossoming inside himself. Sirius believed in him, and for now that was enough.


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